Not that long ago we did an extensive poll asking what the biggest obstacle to achieving goals was. The predominant answer amongst those surveyed – our podcast listeners, workshop participants, and readers – was not enough belief in oneself. Today we would like to address this and hopefully bust something of a myth about it.
Part of life
Have you ever thought about what it was like when a new and major change in your life unfolded?
- The time when, as a first-grader, you entered the completely new social environment of the school classroom;
- Or when you leave home for the first time to go to college;
- Before you start a new job you feel excited and yet a little bit intimidated;
- Relationships are no exception, including becoming a parent which is one of the most transformative experiences.
We can point to many more examples and all of them show how this type of evolution is an integral part of life. There is always some feeling of discomfort and even fear involved. But after a while, you figure out how to handle the situation and that gives you the conviction that you can do better. This is the natural process that repeats over with each new twist in life.
On the road of personal growth
Any progress of ours is realized because we’ve taken on things that are unfamiliar and difficult. Each time we have to deal with something new and hard we end up going through some positive development. And if it turns out to be a lesson well learned we get better and wiser along the way.
Our desire for excellence is possible only when we are confident. Our achievements are what gives us the feeling that we can deal with anything in the future.
Then the question arises – why do we tend to approach our dreams as if they are an exception to this rule?
The big mistake
We have witnessed it so many times when talking to people about why they never go after their higher aspirations.
“I need to gain some more confidence first.” It sounds so reasonable – we need more time, more experience, more skill, and whatnot. But all of these “pre-conditions” can be met only as a result of trying to get things done, i.e. making a purposeful effort.
How many times we didn’t do anything because of low self-esteem! And it is just the opposite – confidence is the reward for taking action.
First things first, or let’s start with the action
Confidence doesn’t come out of nothing – it emerges when we start working on a given objective.
It’s quite simple – don’t give up but try to analyze in full how things are going for you. In “GoalBuddy”, we like to say that there is no such thing as failure, there are only lessons to learn from.
With growing experience, we become better and better at what we do. That’s exactly how to begin feeling that we will be successful in the end.
One of the best models for boosting the belief in ourselves is what Dan Sullivan has come up with:
A cycle of confidence
It consists of 4 distinct levels and as you can see, it isn’t till the very last one that we get the desired result:
- Commitment. You have to declare openly your determination to realize the objective.
- Courage. It’s crucial for stepping outside your comfort zone. It might be hard and scary but it is very important to transform your fear into the excitement of doing something so important.
- Ability. That’s what helps you draw positives from past mistakes and guarantees that you can go on and deal with anything else that can come your way.
- Confidence. It comes at the end because it is the inevitable consequence of the above three. Reaching this last level will dispel any doubt in yourself.
But that’s not all – here is the best part:
It all has a cumulative effect
Going through these 4 levels becomes, in fact, a movement upward.
Once you register any kind of success then you will be emboldened to take on even the bigger tasks. Over time this will be repeated again and again with every new and bolder objective.
Cocky behavior vs high self-esteem
But we have to differentiate between these two. The former is being supported solely by our ego and the latter is what matters.
But be careful because these two are often confused. And a poor understanding of a concept can easily misdirect even a well applied and intended effort.
What is “self-esteem”?
The English word esteem comes from the Latin aestimare and means value, appraisal.
It all comes down to appreciating yourself and being fully aware that you have value, that you are good enough in your own eyes. It expresses the degree to which we like and approve of ourselves as human beings. It’s like a prism through which we look at our thoughts, feelings, and deeds. But it also determines our relationship with others as well as the world.
What is “self-confidence”?
The root of the word is Latin again – fidere, which means to trust.
So, you are sure you can overcome controversy and resolve any problems. But it isn’t to say that you are always right or that there will be no setbacks and outright failures along the way. Rather you are 100% sure you can learn from past mistakes and therefore you will be able to take on new challenges.
In other words, how we feel is something that depends solely on us and how we chose to behave.
When and how we lose faith in ourselves
But what to do when doubt overpowers us?
The worst thing that could happen to confidence is our inaction.
And this is usually the result of some self-imposed indecision and hesitation.
Limiting beliefs are seriously hurting our chances for success
In the book “The 4 Keys to Achieving Goals”, we clearly emphasized this fact. Here’s a quote:
“Once the limiting beliefs are turned on, you exit the zone of action and enter the realm of self-doubt.”
For example, until a few years ago, Niki had this fear of speaking publicly in front of a big audience. He was very much convinced it wasn’t his thing. And this greatly diminished his ability to pick up the microphone and talk to people at our workshops. But he had to. Eventually, he did overcome his stage fright.
The easiest way out is to simply start working on our goal. The alternative is to get deeper and deeper into self-doubt and the inaction it leads to.
There is only one way to generate confidence and that is to start working and making the necessary effort.
We all have to go through this
Speaking publicly was by no means the only challenge on the way to our vision for the “GoalBuddy” system.
Much of what we do now, such as podcasts, articles, online sessions, and even publishing a book, was at some point just an idea and a dream. We, however, took responsibility and acted.
None of our first attempts were very impressive. But after we began actively applying the principles of our system, everything changed. We have managed to turn on the positive feedback between confidence and action which proved to be of great consequence.
The four keys
First is, of course, the Goal Buddy. This person can help you overcome any second thoughts you might have. They will also make sure that you make the first step and stay within the structure of the system.
The second key, the vision, will give you a clear idea where you need to go, as well as provide the peace of mind that you are firmly on the right track.
The third one, the 90-day goals, provides the opportunity for unlimited progress. Nothing else will boost your confidence than these 3-month periods of focused work.
And the fourth key is the small weekly steps towards big dreams. It’s that simple!
The bottom line
If we stay passive, then there is no way we can achieve anything. This, in turn, won’t do much for us except to make things even worse. We have to break out of this vicious circle by focusing on what we can do and begin doing it right away.
It’s not that we need enough confidence to start something. It’s just the opposite and today is as good a day to roll up our sleeves and start doing exactly that!
 Dan Sullivan is the founder and president of The Strategic Coach Inc. In his book, “The 4 C’s Formula”, he gives a new perspective to the road to success. Namely, it is an upward cycle with four levels: Commitment, Courage, Capability, and Confidence.